Monday, December 30, 2019


Setting Up Temporary Bar on Deck...Hinchinbrook Island Resort (Me on dress)
The fellow on the left had been part of the Australia II, 1983 winner of the America's Cup. On 26 September 1983, the yacht Australia II made history when the oldest sporting trophy in the world, the America's Cup, was wrested from the Americans after 132 years.  He and the young fellow on the right were part of the crew on one of the yachts in the Townsville-Hinchinbrook Yacht race as described below
With some of my staff getting ready for the evening fun...before the hordes descended!
Cape Richards Resort's Jetty...Hinchinbrook Island

My final post for 2019....

With the annual Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race over for another year.....(for those not familiar with the legendary race...every Boxing Day, the yachts set sail from Sydney en route south to Hobart, Tasmania)..... I have had cause to fondly reflect upon my first experience with the Townsville to Hinchinbrook Island Yacht Race, which was conducted while I was managing the resort in the mid-Eighties.

Sadly, the island’s resort, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, no longer exists. The buildings became the defenceless, innocent victims of a devastating cyclone, as well as victims of senseless vandalism by senseless humans...if the latter can be called “human”!

During my tenure as manager, the resort, at Cape Richards on Hinchinbrook Island, catered for 30 guests, 45 maximum, if more than two guests occupied a cabin.  Fifteen free-standing cabins were dotted in among the tropical growth bordering the foreshore along Orchid Beach.

The resort’s advertising logo..."a million miles from everywhere"...showed lone footprints along a deserted beach.  

The only telephone on the island was in my office, with an extension to my little island abode.   

There were no televisions in the cabins, or in the main area/restaurant-bar area. The only television sets on the island was one in the staff the staff’s communal area; and one in my private residence.  I very rarely watched TV...because I was very rarely at home, other than to sleep, shower and change clothes!  The majority of my time was spent in the main building and its surrounds, “taking care of business”.

The air throbbed with excitement as the commencement of the Townsville to Hinchinbrook Island race drew near.

The participating yachts set sail from Townsville late on the Friday afternoon. All night long I remained close to the two-way radio in my office situated behind the cocktail bar.  There, I received regular updates regarding the whereabouts of the yachts.

I received word the first yacht was due to arrive around 2.30am.

With much fanfare and elation, I greeted the winning yacht, while inviting the crew to join me in the restaurant.  

When offered refreshments, they all chose beer, or rum (Bundaberg rum, of course) over coffee or tea.  Who could blame them?

One by one, further boats arrived.  I spent the early hours of the morning greeting, meeting and attending to their avid thirsts.  

As 7am approached, the first of my staff began to wander downm bleary-eyed.   Their eyes popped open wide when they saw the crowds of happy sailors and the 'dead-marines' (aka 'empties').

At one table, empty cans of beer had been piled high by the proud sea-faring yachties in a pyramid of glory and achievement.

My chefs and other staff members fired up the large barbecue on the deck surrounding the pool to serve a welcome hot breakfast to our resort guests, and to the yachtsmen and women.

Arriving from Cardwell, the resort’s contracted boat – the “Reef Venture”, as usual, docked around 9am with further guests. The seaplane arrived at mid-day depositing even more. The island was swaying under its buoyant, lively load!

Yachts kept arriving throughout the day. By mid-afternoon, I’d lost count of the numbers of boats, crew and resort guests.   Go with the flow, I decided.  It would all work out...somehow!

A massive celebration was planned for the evening.  I had ordered enough provisions to feed the combined Defence Forces...and enough liquid refreshments to sink the whole naval fleet, and down the Air Force, too!

My resort guests were warned about the abnormal crowd.  None were upset.

Ripples of excitement flowed contagiously among everyone, guests and staff alike.
My staff members were well-prepared for the long day and night ahead. At that stage, I had 12-14 staff at most!

Everyone was on 'board' ...ready to pitch in.  Those not normally utilised as bar people quickly became in tune with serving behind a bar. They had no other choice!  

Laughter and much noise filled the air. The island wallabies viewed the unusual proceedings from afar, wondering what the hell was happening to their normally peaceful surroundings.

Late afternoon everyone...yachties and guests alike...congregated on the deck around the pool. They spilled out from the restaurant/bar area, and hugged the gardens to the side of the main building.

Presentations were made to the winners of the race, and to the handicappers, before a barbecue feast was laid out.  The festive mood heightened rapidly as the music grew louder, and the constant merry-go-round of refreshments flowed freely.  

The high-spirited, happy crowd, of which I estimated to be around 250-300...give or take...were flushed with good cheer. The night was alive with rollicking, playful antics.

Around midnight the pool became a temptation to many, of course.  I could see by the looks on their faces, and from the twinkles in their eyes mischief was being planned with me to be the chosen victim.   But I wasn’t born yesterday...then or now!

That night I wore an off-the-shoulder, flowing black cotton dress.  I had had four of similar style made especially as part of my restaurant in black, two white, and another a sunny yellow. The design suited the tropics as it was cool, loose and tiered, down to my ankles.

Always liking to be 'one step ahead', I went to the pool's edge.  I jumped in without assistance, feet first, much to the dismay of the good-natured conspirators!  

My black dress went up in the air, floating on the pool's surface like a huge black butterfly, or moth!

Satisfied I had short-circuited their evil plan, I swam across the pool amidst cheers and applause, .  Then, wasting little time, I raced across to my house, and changed into dry clothes, re-emerging to continue on with the fun and games.

The party continued until dawn, and thereafter.  

A champagne breakfast/brunch followed.  People came and went; some looking the worse for wear, but not caring.

I had had no sleep since the Thursday night.  I knew none was coming my way until later that night, Sunday...late Sunday night/early Monday morn.  I survived on adrenaline. There was no time to even think about sleep.  Anyway, much more fun was had being awake.

I had no idea who were my resort guests, or who were off the yachts.  I decided the best thing to do was just wait until the yachts left to answer the question.  The majority of yachts were to leave sometime during the Sunday; others on the Monday.  Most of the people left over would be guests of the resort...paying guests, staying in cabins.

To add to the mayhem, the sea plane made its normal delivery, dropping off another few people around mid-day.

Somehow, everything worked out...don't ask me how, but it did. I don't believe in panicking in such situations as panic only makes matters worse. Things work way or the other.  If handled with good humour, and a touch of insanity, all the better!

It was a great weekend full of hilarious, memorable moments.  Through it all, there was not one hassle, not one unhappy, complaining soul, not one body lost (that I was aware of, anyway). 

Happy memories.... 

An acrylic painting painted by me of Orchid Beach...the main beach at Cape Richards Resort, Hinchinbrook Island

Sunday, December 22, 2019


There will be no rockin’ around a Christmas tree for me.  If I want to run around a tree, I’ll just go outside this three acre property and take my pick.  There is a wide and varied choice of trees to rock around out there.  However, why should I exert unnecessary physical energy in the heat, and looking like a bit of an idiot when my mind is alive...rockin’ ‘n rollin’ with memories of Christmases past? 

I’ll stay in front of the fans and let my mind do the rockin’!

Entree and main course have been served. We’re at the dessert end of the year.  I could say “sit back and relax” but, I won’t because you won’t; but I intend to.  I’ve already begun practising to make sure I get it right.  I started at the beginning of 2019, to make sure I got it right.
For many, I know, it’ll be difficult to relax in the lead-up to Christmas. It used to be like that for me...but no more...

Once upon a time, as well as rocking around the Christmas tree, and decking the halls (even when I didn’t have a hall) with artificial holly, sparkling stars, glistening baubles and gleaming tinsel, I spent the weeks leading up to Christmas planning, scheming, plotting, designing, organising, and preparing.  

Christmas morning was “open house”.  At will, friends popped in to enjoy a glass or two of festive cheer, accompanied by tasty nibbles, before wandering off to their next rendezvous. 

A lengthy afternoon followed, with family and friends – usually around 15 in number...crowded around our laden Christmas table for a sit-down, hot Christmas lunch.  

Boy!  I have no desire to do similar these days... but in those years it was a lot of fun, even if a lot of hard work.  The happy faces, laughter and good conversation...a lot of it zany...were the rewards I received in return...

And then, there were other Christmases, when working in the hospitality various fields and positions...I catered for the hungry, madding hordes. That was enjoyable, too.

But, more...those days, for me, are well in the past.  This Festive Season I will be catering for me and my two furry mates, Remy and Shama, in the most leisurely way.

Christmas overflowed with excitement for my late brother and me when we were kids.  Such fun we had! 

When Mum and Nana were out of range, surreptitiously, we counted our saved pocket money, as we discussed what presents we’d buy them.  We created our own cards, and composed the verses.

On Christmas Eve we each hung a pillow case on the base of our beds ready for Santa to fill them with presents.  We never felt the need to write to him...we knew he’d not disappoint us.  He never did.   Willingly, we left a slice of Christmas cake and some lemonade for Father Christmas (no gender-neutral in use here!).  He needed sustenance to help get him through a very busy evening.  It’s little wonder Santa is a rather plump fellow...every household feeds him!

Underneath the house were a couple of washing tubs, ready to be filled with ice to hold the watermelons to be devoured Christmas afternoon...once lunch was over and done with, and digested.  The obligatory watermelon fights were Christmas Day features, too, of course.

Teasing and tempting, in a cool spot, the calico-clad Christmas pudding our Nana made a couple of weeks before Christmas Day, hung on the bars of an upturned, wooden kitchen stool. 

Our brother’s and mine...were on the thruppences and sixpences we’d find in our servings of Christmas pudding. The silver coins interested us most, not the pudding! the time the rich fruit pudding arrived we were so full from the delicious roast meal; the bowls of summer fruits; lollies, including Liquorice Allsorts, naturally; unshelled mixed nuts, accompanied by the precious nutcracker...there was little room in our tums for pud!  When push came to shove, somehow we managed to find room. 

I didn’t write to Santa asking for two front teeth for Christmas.  My dentist fixed that problem during the year.  I’ve now enough teeth with which to chew the pork crackling – and the Liquorice Allsorts (I’ve already started on them). 

However, I have asked Santa for widespread rain. The rain, and the smiles on our farmers’ faces, would be the greatest gifts of all.  Relief for those who put their lives on the line, hour after hour, day after day, fighting the fires would be a welcome gift, too. Each one of them is a true hero...

My thanks to everyone who shared their smiles, words and kindness with me during 2019. 

Be grateful for what you have; and, in some instances, for what you don’t have.  There’s always someone worse off than you, or me.

Share smiles. Smiles cost nothing.  Be thoughtful, be kind; cherish family and loved ones.   

Hugs abound! Don’t bother trying to sue me 20 years in the future for inappropriate conduct. By then, like Elvis, I’ll have left the building. 

Merry Christmas! To everyone, best wishes of the matter what your beliefs.  All the very best wishes from me to you and your loved ones.

Relax ...enjoy! 

I hope 2020 rains on our parade! 

May compassion, commonsense, decency and respect rule in 2020...

Cracking Crackling: Score pork in diamond pattern (or just straight strips), through the skin, the fat, but not through to the meat: place pork in sink; pour boiling water over; dry well; rub in salt etc.

Christmas Crack: Line baking tray with foil; spray.  Preheat oven 200C.  Separate Salada biscuits into 40 individual squares; place in single layer on tray. Place 1c butter and 1c packed brown sugar in saucepan; bring to boil; boil 3mins. Pour this over crackers to coat. Place in oven; bake 3-5mins. Remove from oven; immediately scatter 2c chocolate chips over top; place back in oven, 2-3mins to melt choc; spread evenly over top. Sprinkle “100s & 1000s” or sliced almonds.  Cool completely, preferably in fridge; cut into pieces to serve.

Cherry Delight: Line 1.5 litre loaf tin with cling wrap. Whisk 6 egg yolks, 110g caster sugar and 1tbs Kirsch until thick and pale. Transfer to bowl; stir in 170g Sea Salt Caramel Chocolate, chopped into small pieces, 80g roasted desiccated coconut and 200g pitted cherries.  Whisk 500ml cream until almost stiff peaks. In 2 batches, gently fold cream into choc mix until just combined. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk 4 egg whites to stiff peaks. In 2 batches, fold into choc mix until just combined. Don't over mix. Spoon into mould; freeze until firm.  Turn onto platter. Decorate with choc curls and whole cherries.

Liquorice Allsorts Slice: Place 375g Liquorice Allsorts, chopped, 1c desiccated coconut, 1 crushed packet Chocolate Ripple biscuits, 125g melted butter, 1tbs golden syrup and ½ tin condensed milk in bowl; mix to combine. Put into slice tray; flatten out as much as possible with back of a spoon. Place in fridge to set 1hr. Melt 1x300g block of milk chocolate. Pour melted chocolate over the top of slice; place back in fridge to set.  Cut into squares to serve. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019


For the fun of it, the other day, rather than walking along the aisles of IGA, our local supermarket, talking out loud to myself...something I do often, by the way; it triggers raised eyebrows and strange looks....I took one of my TV remote controls with me.  Holding the remote to my ear, I proceeded to talk into it as if it were a mobile phone.  Nobody knew the difference.  I laughed and spoke loudly during my chirpy one-way conversation.  After all, I had the floor with no one at the other end butting in, interrupting me.  On a roll, I kept my conversation upbeat and interesting for my eavesdropping fellow-shoppers; particularly the part about where I’d stashed the loot, and buried the bodies.

Last week I cracked up during a phone conversation with a Gympie friend...via landline.  She and I have known each other since we were both young, having living across the street from each other during our childhood and teenage years. Our friendship began when I was a wee little girl of three and a half years, and she was eight.  The difference in our ages, for some strange reason, never ever made a difference, even in the early the beginning...of our life-long friendship.  We are each other's "Forever Friend".

As my friend and I always manage to do with no difficulty, we chatted at length, but one of her tales took me by surprise, causing me to laugh my head off.   In case you're wondering, I caught said head before it rolled out the door.

It took me a while to regain control.  Her story is the best I’ve heard in ages.  We covered many topics; shared much laughter, as well as important, heartfelt memories; and then, when I least expected it, she hit the jackpot!  

Somehow the subject of boring people entered our enjoyable chat.  My unbridled laughter erupted when she related a true story about a phone conversation she’d had earlier in the year with an acquaintance who resides in Victoria.  It was a one-way conversation because the person on the other end of the line didn’t pause to take a breath, or to allow my friend to get a word in.  

Unintentionally, my friend drifted off to sleep as the person on the other end of the line, in her monotone voice, boringly droned on and on, ad infinitum.  My mate woke up with a jolt, not knowing how long she’d been asleep. 

“Beep! Beep! Beep....” issued forth from her phone. To her relief, she’s not heard from that person again. 

There’s only so much boredom a person can handle in one sitting.  Nudge! Nudge!  Wake up!  Don’t drift off!  I’m not finished yet!

This one takes the cake!  My education is sorely lacking, I admit.  I didn’t go on to tertiary level, having left my childhood behind in the early stages of secondary school to become a legal secretary.   

Tsk! Tsk!  It’s too late now, I suppose, for me to become a mature-age student.  No doubt, the main requirement has to be mature.  On that point alone, I’d fail. So be it! 

The other day I read a newspaper article about Christmas hams, pork etc., and the safe storage of leftovers – of what to do.  A self-professed nutritionist and dietician/dietitian – a specialist in dietetics - who shall remain nameless for obvious reasons...not only for her protection, but my own...utilised her well-educated, learned wisdom when she advised: “Freeze your sliced ham or turkey in your freezer.” 

Where else, I ask, in my uneducated ignorance, would you freeze your leftover ham or turkey, if not in the freezer...perhaps in the oven, or in a kitchen cupboard?

No wonder mine goes off so quickly.  I’ve been keeping my leftover ham, turkey, chicken, pork, etc., in the oven. I store containers of excess homemade Bolognese sauce, soups, and stews in a cupboard for future use.

As for my Connoisseur ice creams, they melt in a moment...which is my excuse for eating them all in one go.

Now I have the answer to why my freezer is always empty!  I’ll put a sign on my freezer – instructions how to use it...what I should put in it.
Oh! Woe is me!  Obviously, my ignorance has no limits!

Wonders will never cease....

Cheese & Spinach Rolls:  Trim off large stems of 1 bunch spinach. Rinse leaves well; place in saucepan over medium heat, cook until leaves are wilted. Remove from heat; drain spinach, cool slightly; press firmly to remove excess liquid. Chop finely. Add 1 large, finely chopped onion to a heated, greased frypan; stir until onion is soft. Stir in chopped spinach; cook until liquid has evaporated. Add 250g ricotta. Continue stirring over heat until spinach and ricotta are combined.  Transfer to bowl; cool slightly. Stir in 1/c grated parmesan; season with salt and pepper.  Using 3 sheets of partially thawed puff pastry, cuts sheets in half.  Spoon 1/2c spinach mixture along one long edge of pastry strip. Brush other long edge of pastry with beaten egg.  Roll up to enclose filling, and form rolls.  Place rolls seam-side down on clean bench or chopping board; brush tops with beaten egg; sprinkle with a little extra grated parmesan cheese, if desired.  Cut each roll diagonally into 4 pieces.  Place on greased baking tray; bake, 20-25mins in 200C oven, until golden.

Cranberry Glazed Ham & Pears: Cover leg of ham with foil; roast at 170C, 2 to 2-1/2hrs, until tender.  Sauce: heat 1tsp oil over a med-heat; add 1 finely chopped shallot, cook 3mins to soften; season; stir in 3tbs balsamic and 200ml port. Simmer 10mins until reduced by a third; add 100g cranberry sauce. Simmer 5mins; then set aside. Preheat oven 190°C.  Drain ham; cool 10mins; slice off rind and most of the fat, leaving behind 1cm layer. Score a cross-hatch diamond pattern into fat; put in a roasting pan with 3 halved pears.  Glaze; blitz 100g cranberry sauce and 3tbs brown sugar to puree; mix with 1tbs wholegrain mustard; brush all over ham and pears. Press whole cloves into scores on fat. Cover with foil; roast 45 mins, or until the glaze has caramelised.

Apple Glazed Ham: Score ham to diamond pattern. Preheat oven 175C. Slice 2 Granny Smith apples; place in bottom of roasting pan. Melt 1/3c apple jelly; stir in 2tbs butter until melted; stir in 2tbs Dijon mustard. Brush half over ham. Pour 1c dry white wine or apple juice in bottom of pan. Bake 3.5 to 5kg ham, uncovered, about 2hrs, commonsense will prevail. Halfway through cooking time, baste with remaining glaze. Rest ham 15mins; pour pan juices over slices.

Melting Moments: Preheat oven 160°C. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper. Beat 250g softened butter, 2/3rd cup sifted pure icing sugar and 1tsp vanilla extract until fluffy.  Sift 2c plain flour and 1/3rd cup custard powder over butter mixture. Stir with wooden spoon until soft dough forms. Roll level tablespoons of dough into 32 balls. Place on prepared trays; leave room to spread. Using a fork dipped in flour, lightly flatten each biscuit until 1cm thick. Bake 15-20mins until light golden. Cool on tray 10mins.  Cool completely on wire rack. Filling; beat 60g softened butter, 1c sifted pure icing sugar and 1tbs finely grated lemon rind until light and creamy. Spread flat side of 1 biscuit with 2tsps filling; sandwich with 1 biscuit; repeat process.